Desdemona And Emilia;Compare Essay, Research Paper
Desdemona, the bride of Othello, and Emilia, the wife of the villain Iago, are the two main characters in Shakespeare s Othello. Although they are both loyal to their husbands, a sharp contrast between these women is realized with regard to their experiences and perceptions of reality.
Desdemona as well as Emilia are loyal wives who want to please their husbands. For that reason, Desdemona affirms:
[ ] I never did
Offend you in my life; never loved Cassio
But with such general warranty of heaven
As I might love. I never gave him token. (5.2.58-61)
She is veracious in saying that she has not cheated on Othello with Cassio, therefore proving to him that she is loyal. The only reason Desdemona makes that statement is to verbally please her husband. Because Othello believes that she is lewd and unchaste, Desdemona wants to appease his worries concerning her loyalty by reassuring him, thus pleasing him. Emilia is just as loyal to Iago as Desdemona is to Othello. As Emilia speaks to herself in the next passage, she also demonstrates how she pleases Iago as she says:
I am glad I have found this napkin: [ ]
My wayward husband hath a hundred times
Wooed me to steal it [ ]
I nothing, but to please his fantasy. (3.3.287-296)
When Emilia finds Desdemona s handkerchief, she remembers that her husband had asked her to give it to him. For that reason, instead of giving the handkerchief back to her mistress right away, Emilia gave it to Iago, with the goal in mind of pleasing him. Emilia s actions therefore reinforce her loyalty to Iago.
Although these women have a strong sense of loyalty, they differ in experience, thus altering Desdemona and Emilia s perception of reality. On account of Othello and Desdemona being newlyweds, as quoted by Iago:
Faith, he tonight hath boarded a land carack;
If it prove lawful prize, he s made for ever.
[ ] He s married. (1.2.50-52)
they would not have very much experience. Because they are still deeply in love with each other, it is causing Desdemona to be sightless in a sense, as love is blind. Due to Desdemona s blindness, she does not perceive reality in the same way that she normally would. Her thoughts are in sooth altered, and are of a happy-go-lucky nature, no matter what the situation. Her demeanour is therefore modified by her experience with love. Emilia, on the other hand, has been married for at least a couple of years and her perception of reality thus differs from that of Desdemona. Emilia s opinion about men, for example, is expressed in the following lines:
Tis not a year or two shows us a man.
They are all but stomachs, and we all but food;
They eat us hungerly, and when they are full,
They belch us. (3.4.95-98)
Because she has had more experience with the married life, Emilia states that after a year or two, women will truly see the men they have married. Emilia believes that women are only used by men, and when the men have had enough of them, the women are not only put aside, but belched. Emilia s perception of reality is more realistic than Desdemona s outlook on the matter, but only due to Emilia s experience and Desdemona s lack of experience.
Desdemona and Emilia, both loyal to their husbands, perceive reality in different ways, due to their life experiences. The views expressed by Emilia demonstrate how she is able to see the forest for the trees, whereas Desdemona cannot. Perhaps if Desdemona had had more experience, she would have been able to see the real Othello.